BRING ON THE CRITICS
But Mother Teresa’s impending canonization has prompted a remarkable amount of criticism. One prominent CNN piece was headlined, “‘Troubled individual:’ Mother Teresa no saint to her critics.” It includes an interview with “disillusioned former volunteer Hemley Gonzalez,” who in 2008 spent two months volunteering at Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity in Kolkata [Calcutta]. Teresa had been dead for over a decade, but Gonzalez said he now suffers from the “horrific remnants of [Teresa’s] legacy.”
Gonzalez was “appalled” that there was little vetting of clinic volunteers and a shortage of trained doctors and nurses. He was taken aback by the poor hygiene he saw there. “It was a scene out of World War II concentration camp,” he said. What’s more, the sisters there seemed reluctant to change how things were done.”
REALITY CHECK – PERSONAL EXPERIENCES SERVING THE POOR
I’ve personally worked with missionary medical teams who served the poor without the convenience of clean water from faucets, sterile operating rooms or even operating rooms at all.
I’ve witnessed hundreds lined up, awaiting a turn for volunteer dentists to extract rotted teeth in an un-air-conditioned ‘clinic’ that was a tent with a dirt floor.
My experiences above were in El Salvador and Peru. My wife who has ministered in India tells me of the unimaginable poverty and stench she witnessed in India’s slums. She knows firsthand the dire poverty in which the lowest caste Indians live.
There are millions of elderly people, like the ‘ancianos cubanos’, who subsist on one meal a day, “if there is food”.
Author Henry Rollins said, “Spending time in Calcutta [India] really did a number on me. The way life and death are almost the same thing, the way poverty is dealt with, the sheer number of dead bodies you see, it’s all pretty overwhelming.”
AMERICANS DO NOT KNOW POVERTY
In May of this year, 43,478,196 Americans were recorded on food stamps. WIC (Women-Infants-Children), SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program), School Lunch programs, regional food pantries and MEDICARE assure no American goes to bed hungry or without basic medical attention – for free. Public housing programs provide decent, air-conditioned homes with hot water and lockable doors. This I testify authoritatively as former chairman of a housing authority.
ANSWERING THE CALL
Mother Teresa sacrificed nothing to answer her calling. Acting on that divine calling wasn’t a sacrifice, it was obedience. It was the grace of God to which she responded.
What is grace? The simplest definition is ‘gift’, ‘charis’ in the Greek, the root of charismatic. Grace is a two-part gift of the power to will and the power to do. God’s grace implants God’s will in the form of desire and with the desire is given the ability, the power to accomplish that which God calls one to do.
Philippians 2:13 (NLT) says, “For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him.”
From Titus 2:11-14 (NLT), “For the grace of God has been revealed, bringing salvation to all people. And we are instructed to turn from godless living and sinful pleasures. We should live in this evil world with wisdom, righteousness, and devotion to God, while we look forward with hope to that wonderful day when the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, will be revealed. He gave his life to free us from every kind of sin, to cleanse us, and to make us his very own people, totally committed to doing good deeds.”
Mother Teresa simply obeyed God by acting on the grace given to her. In God’s economy, obedience is better than sacrifice.
What about you?
God’s grace is on you, calling you to obey him. God’s grace is neither voodoo nor magic; it’s simply God supernaturally leading you by his Holy Spirit to obey him.